Interview guidance

What is Corpus looking for in an applicant?

As with any other Cambridge College, there is no particular ‘type’ that we are looking for. We aim to select those applicants who are keen to fulfill their academic potential and who have a genuine enthusiasm for their subject. We want you to enjoy your time at Corpus and thrive in the intellectual and social environment of the University and the College. When we are assessing your application, we are therefore looking for evidence of ability, but also want to be sure that your interests and aptitude will be well served by the course you have chosen and the teaching methods we employ.

Will I be interviewed?
In practice we interview at least 90% of our 350 or so applicants. Each applicant’s qualifications are assessed individually, and we will take into account any circumstances which may have affected that applicant’s academic performance. We usually invite all applicants from the UK who are likely to meet, or have already met, our entrance requirements. Applicants from outside the UK will be called for interview if, on the basis of their application papers, they are judged to have a strong chance of receiving an offer of a place. For Medicine applicants, where an applicant’s academic profile is weak, we may use the results of the BMAT to determine whether to call them for interview. In the past candidates from Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, PR China and (for affiliated applicants only) India have been interviewed in their home country by a team that acts for all Cambridge Colleges: for up-to-date information check the University website.

How can I prepare for interview?
Carefully read through your personal statement and any written work you have submitted. Think in detail about your reasons for wanting to study a particular subject at Cambridge, rather than somewhere else. What is it about the content and structure of the course at Cambridge which attracts you and which matches your interests and aptitude? It is important to be clear about these aspects of your application, even if you are not asked these questions.

Expect to be asked focused and challenging questions, typical of teaching and learning at Oxbridge, and be prepared to talk about the academic work you have completed in the last year or two. You may also be asked about relevant wider reading or work experience, and issues related to your subject that are very readily visible in the wider world.

Revise the topics you have studied in the subjects most relevant to your application. Inform yourself about your chosen subject by reading beyond the bounds of your curriculum. Get as much practice as you can applying your academic skills and knowledge to unfamiliar problems and concepts.

What shall I wear?
You should wear whatever makes you comfortable. Some people feel happier in suits, but this is by no means the norm. Don’t feel that you need to go out to buy clothes specially! Remember that we are interested in you and not your dress sense (and remember that it is December and likely to be cold)!

What happens at the interview?
Most applicants will have two interviews, often with two Fellows in each interview. One of the interviews will be with the Director of Studies for your course and this will be primarily concerned with your potential and suitability. The second interview may also be subject-specific or, if it is conducted by Fellows who are specialists in other academic fields, it may be concerned with your broader academic interests. The exact format of the interview will vary from subject to subject, but we try to give you as much information about what to expect as possible.

Some subjects set specific tests which are designed to test more formally knowledge and potential; maths problems and language exercises for example.

‘Many people worry unnecessarily about the interview process, but I actually found it quite an enjoyable experience. It was stimulating, challenging and completely alien to anything I had done before.’ - 1st year Corpus student

“The first interview was with my DOS ( Director of Studies ). It consisted of an introductory chat covering my school progress and motivation to study the subject I had applied for. I had several opportunities to ask questions about life in Corpus and the course. The things that I had done outside of school were also discussed; the atmosphere of the interview was calm and I certainly felt I was being listened to and my points of view seriously considered. I think that the interviews gave me a chance to reveal myself much more comprehensively than any written statement.”- Nat Segarin, Medic

“In all the questions it isn’t so important that you get the answer right – the interviewers realise that you are under pressure – but that you express your thoughts well and lead through them in a logical way. They are more interested in how you learn than what you know at the moment.”- Derek Marshall, Engineer


More information

If you would like any more information on the Interview please contact the Admissions Office. The University has also produced some guidance on interviews which you can see in the University Prospectus.
We wish you the best of luck in your application!

Admissions Tutor
Admissions Office
Corpus Christi College
Cambridge CB2 1RH
Tel: 01223 338056 Fax: 01223 338057

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